Salt City Hoops » Andrei Kirilenko http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Tue, 16 Sep 2014 23:12:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops » Andrei Kirilenko http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com Where Are They Now? Former Utah Jazz Players http://saltcityhoops.com/where-are-they-now-former-utah-jazz-players/ http://saltcityhoops.com/where-are-they-now-former-utah-jazz-players/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:41:42 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12782 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

It’s always interesting for fans to keep an eye on those who once donned the Utah Jazz uniform. After another busy offseason around the league, here is the full list of where former Jazzmen are playing, and some thoughts about their upcoming seasons.

DeMarre Carroll, Atlanta Hawks: Last season, the gritty forward enjoyed a career-year. After toiling for four teams in four seasons, Carroll may have found a home with the Hawks. He posted 11.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.8 APG and 1.5 SPG, complete with some great defense (2.6 DWS) and shooting (.575 TS%). Carroll still just had a 13.9 PER and is probably better suited playing just a touch less than the 32.1 MPG he played. He has been effusive in his praise of new Jazz coach Quin Snyder, citing his efforts as a big catalyst for his improvement.

Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks: The sharp-shooting forward had another solid season, putting up 12.0 PPG, 2.9 APG and 4.0 RPG for the Hawks. Korver’s stellar marksmanship (47.5 percent field goals, 47.2 percent on 3s and 92.6 percent from the line) paced the NBA with a .653 True Shooting Percentage. Add in a 5.9 WS, and you can see Korver’s importance for Atlanta. Look for him to do much of the same this year. While he fell short of making the USA FIBA team, Korver’s value has managed to increase as his career progresses.

Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks: When Al Horford went down with a season-ending injury, Paul Millsap stepped up in a major way. Sporting a nice 3-point touch, his 17.9 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.7 SPG and 1.1 BPG were enough to earn his first-ever All-Star appearance. Many of his advanced numbers mirrored his remarkable consistency during his Jazz days, so it was refreshing to see him earn that accolade at last. Even so, there still is a feeling that Millsap is underrated. He’s even been mentioned on some “Most Likely to be Traded” lists out there, perhaps due in part to his expiring $9.5 million  contract. If Atlanta is smart, they will hold on to the do-it-all forward.

Andrei Kirilenko, Brooklyn Nets: Injuries plagued AK-47, but he still added value to a Brooklyn bench that struggled at times. Kirilenko has definitely lost some of the zip that made his one of the NBA’s most unique players for years. He averaged just 5.0 PPG last year, but showed he can still facilitate. At just $3.3 million, he is a solid guy for the Nets to have.

Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets: It certainly was a down year for Deron Williams. Across the board, his numbers were his worst since his first season. He’s dropped from 21.0 PPG to 18.9 to 14.3 the past three years (8.7 APG to 7.7 to 6.1). Given the additions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Kirilenko, optimism was high that DWill would be the quarterback of a veteran-laden team that would compete with the Heat and Pacers. Instead, injuries really hurt his game. At just 29, Williams can bounce back. Given the Brooklyn market, and the fact that he’s in line to earn $63 million over the next three years, the pressure is on. By many accounts, new coach Lionel Hollins plans to funnel most of the offense through Williams.

Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats: Like Millsap, it was wonderful to see Jefferson earn the praise that he’s deserved for many years. He was the key to the Bobcats’ resurgence, as he provided a bonafide scoring threat inside– 21.8 PPG and 10.8 RPG. Head coach Steve Clifford used him well on both ends, helping him be a big part of their defensive identity. Evidence: Big Al’s career-high 4.7 DWS. Strangely enough, he did not make the All-Star team, but garnered All-NBA Third Team honors. With an excellent offseason, Charlotte is poised to make another jump in the Eastern Conference with Jefferson as the focal point. While his three-year, $41 million contract opened some eyes, most view it as a bargain for his production and leadership.

Marvin Williams, Charlotte Bobcats: Always a terrific locker room presence and solid on-court performer, it was difficult to see Marvin Williams depart Salt Lake City. He did everything that was asked of him, even developing into a good stretch four for the Jazz. Williams inked a two-year, $14 million deal with Charlotte to reunite with Jefferson and return to his collegiate home. With his combination of stout defense, improved rebounding and outside shooting, he will add a lot to the Bobcats. He will compete for a starting position.

John Lucas III, Cleveland Cavaliers: Lucas struggled with Utah. With Trey Burke’s early injury, he was thrust into the ill-suited role of starter and he never really recovered from that poor start. Diante Garrett quickly usurped him in the Jazz’s pecking order. Whether or not he makes the Cleveland roster remains to be determined. It sounds like he will be given the chance, with only Kyrie Irving and Matthew Dellavedova being the only other point guards in the fold.

Erik Murphy, Cleveland Cavaliers: Murphy, too, is facing an uphill battle. The Cavs seemingly dealt for Lucas, Murphy and Malcolm Thomas to use as trade filler in any Kevin Love deal,  then ended up holding on to all three of them. Along the way, Murphy’s contract was guaranteed.

Malcolm Thomas, Cleveland Cavaliers: By some accounts, Thomas seems like a player Cleveland is genuinely interested in keeping and using. With his blend of athleticism and length, he seems like a low-cost, potentially decent-reward guy to have at the end of the bench for the Cavs.

Devin Harris, Dallas Mavericks: Harris returned to his original NBA team and while injuries affected his season, he seemed to thrive in the third guard role for Dallas. Harris chipped in 7.9 PPG and 4.5 APG off the pine, with his 31.0 AST% being his best since his New Jersey days. He re-signed for a modest contract and will be a valuable cog for a Mavericks team that could surprise, thanks to a very good offseason that also saw Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons and Jameer Nelson join its ranks.

Richard Jefferson, Dallas Mavericks: Like Marvin Williams, Jefferson too put forth a resurgent effort. After languishing in Golden State, he started for Utah and showed that he still had some gas in the tank. With Vince Carter’s departure to Memphis, Jefferson could fill the role of a shooter off the bench. Signing him for the veteran’s minimum was another solid move for Dallas.

Randy Foye, Denver Nuggets: Foye had a nice lone season in Utah and did even better in his first with Denver. With other guards being hit with injuries, the Nuggets relied on him more than expected. With 13.2 PPG and 3.5 APG, Foye did his best to help Denver remain in the playoff picture for a good part of the season. With Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson coming back and Arron Afflalo’s return to the Mile High City, Foye may be back in a super sub role – one in which he does quite well.

Brandon Rush, Golden State Warriors: One year after being traded to Utah by the Warriors, Rush made his way back to the Bay Area. Given his lackluster play and poor body language in Utah, his heart was probably always in Golden State. If he can recapture some of his former self, he can be a solid perimeter addition to the Warriors bench.

C.J.Miles, Indiana Pacers: Despite playing nine NBA seasons, Miles is shockingly just 27. He had his best 3-point shooting seasons with the Cavaliers, which is the likely reason Indiana added him. He was to be a much-needed shooter for the Pacers, but with Paul George’s devastating injury, Miles may be asked to assume a bigger role – perhaps even starting. It will be interesting to see if Miles can seize this opportunity.

Carlos Boozer, Los Angeles Lakers: Carlos Boozer’s 2013-14 season was quite forgettable. His 13.7 PPG and 8.3 RPG were the lowest of his career since his rookie campaign. His 14.4 PER was by far the worst of his 12 seasons. The biggest stat for the Chicago Bulls was the $13.5 million he was set to make during the upcoming season. With the continued improvement of Taj Gibson and the additions of Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic, Boozer was an amnesty casualty.

Enter the Los Angeles Lakers. It is hard to determine what this franchise’s direction is. They added a slew of players to join the returning-from-injury Kobe Bryant, seemingly in hopes to provide enough firepower to compete in the Western Conference. Boozer will be looked on for some much-needed scoring. That said, with the glut of power forwards on the roster, it remains to be seen how much playing time the two-time All-Star will see. Especially when his age (32) and defense are taken into consideration.

Kosta Koufos, Memphis Grizzlies: After several underrated good years for Denver, Koufos brought some solid play to the Memphis front court. With 6.4 PPG and 5.2 RPG in 16.9 MPG, he provided depth behind Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. His shooting took a dip last season, but a 16.5 PER for your back-up is still very good; ditto the 3.5 WS and 18.4 TRB% (22.7 DRB%). He will continue to provide quality minutes and can step in to start, when needed.

Kyrylo Fesenko, Minnesota Timberwolves: Big Fes was a fan favorite during his four seasons. He had his moments and showed defensive potential. His immaturity, though, was an issue. After appearing in just three NBA the past three seasons, Fesenko is embarking on a comeback with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He impressed enough in summer league to earn a training camp invite. Given the rebuilding roster, the 7’1″, 288 lb gargantuan center might have a chance to stick.

Othyus Jeffers, Minnesota Timberwolves: The energetic Jeffers has made the rounds since finishing up the 2010 season with Utah. He hooked on with Minnesota right before the end of the last year and is still listed on its roster.

Mo Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves: After seeing success in a back-up role with the surprising Portland Trailblazers, Williams opted out of his contract and found the market wasn’t too kind. When things settled down, he inked a deal with Minnesota. It was a perplexing signing, with Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine and, until they ship him out, J.J. Barea in tow. Given the dramatically changed roster, perhaps Mo will be looked on for veteran leadership.

Diante Garrett, Portland Trailblazers: After being a pleasant addition to the Jazz last year, he was unfortunately traded to Toronto in the Steve Novak transaction. After being waived by the Raptors, he signed a non-guaranteed contract with Portland in hopes of sticking. With his size and improved outside shooting, he would be a nice player to have on the bench, even with the guards the Blazers already have.

Wesley Matthews, Portland Trailblazers: After three solid seasons, Matthews made a little jump last season, enjoying his best year as a professional. His first half of the season was especially torrid, as he was shooting lights out. There was even talk of him making the Western Conference All-Star team. He finished the year averaging 16.4 PPG, while making 2.5 3s per outing. He leapt from 4.7 WS to 8.2 last year (going from 3.6 to 6.3 on OWS). Working with Damian Lillard, Matthews is part of a very potent back court that is among the best in the league.

Kris Humphries, Washington Wizards: While the Boston Celtics had a rebuilding year, Humphries had a quietly solid bounce-back season. He chipped in 8.4 PPG and 5.9 RPG in just 19.9 MPG, along with .552 TS% and 4.1 WS. Washington is a team on the rise and Humphries adds another capable back-up to their front court.

There are several others who are still out there without NBA contracts: Ronnie Brewer, Earl Watson, Ronnie Price, Eric Maynor, Andris Biedrins, Jamaal Tinsley, Mike Harris, Josh Howard, Lou Amundson. With the exception of Howard, all spent time on NBA rosters last season.

And just for fun, here are some former Jazzmen in the NBA’s coaching ranks:

Jarron Collins, Los Angeles Clippers: Collins will get his first chance as an NBA assistant coach. Always respected for his attitude and demeanor, it is nice to see him getting this opportunity with Doc Rivers and one of the league’s contending teams.

Howard Eisley, Los Angeles Clippers: Eisley continues in his role with the Clippers. He seems to be a valued part of the staff; no surprise, given his basketball knowledge.

Derek Fisher, New York Knicks: After 18 seasons and five championships, Derek Fisher was not unemployed for long. Phil Jackson plucked him up quickly, signing him to a five-year, $25 million pact. That’s a lot of scratch for someone who’s never coached at any level (though the same applies to Golden State’s deal with Steve Kerr). It will be very interesting to see what Fisher does in the Big Apple and the inherent scrutiny that exists therein. The Knicks roster does not do much to inspire.

Jacque Vaughn, Orlando Magic: Entering his third season in charge, the expectations are again low for Vaughn’s team to produce Ws. What they are looking for is continued player and talent development. That sounds familiar.

Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix Suns: Hornacek and his upstart Suns were among the NBA’s best stories last season. In his first year as head coach, Hornacek defied the most optimistic of expectations out there by producing an entertaining brand of basketball that got them within a breath of the postseason. Almost to a man, each Phoenix player had career-years–from established veterans like Goran Dragic and Channing Frye, to guys who were seemingly discarded in Miles Plumlee, P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green. The bar was set high. Can Hornacek build upon the momentum there in Phoenix? It would be tough to bet against him.

Tyrone Corbin, Sacramento Kings: Much has been said about Tyrone Corbin’s tenure as Utah’s head coach. There were ups and downs. Corbin gave his all and dedicated the past 12 years to the franchise. While he had struggles at the helm, he was largely considered one of the NBA’s best assistant coaches prior to replacing Jerry Sloan. Corbin should succeed in Sacramento as the lead assistant there, bringing professionalism to a talented Kings roster.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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How are Former Jazzmen Doing? http://saltcityhoops.com/how-are-former-jazzmen-doing/ http://saltcityhoops.com/how-are-former-jazzmen-doing/#comments Thu, 06 Feb 2014 21:33:13 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=10255 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Jesse Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Jesse Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

At Jerry Sloan night, one of the exciting things for many fans was seeing many familiar faces – guys who once donned the Utah Jazz uniform. They helped bring back many fond memories. There are many former Jazz players playing for other teams, many of whom help us hearken to good times. Here’s a run-down of how they are doing. Some are thriving, some are struggling.

Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks

One of Jazz fans’ most beloved players, Millsap is getting his turn in the sun. When front court stalwart Al Horford went down with a season-ending injury, he rose to the occasion and has kept Atlanta in contention for home court advantage in the playoffs. Recently named an Eastern Conference All-Star, he is finally getting at least a portion of the recognition he has long-deserved.  Millsap’s numbers are very close to his Utah ones–and the argument could be made that he should’ve earned those honors in the West. He certainly deserves this.

Millsap is posting career-highs in pts (17.5), assists (2.9) and steals (1.9). Always the analytics community’s darling, some of his advanced stats have actually decreased (career-lows with .542 TS%, .494 eFG% and 4.4 WS). His usage has increased to 25.3, which is a definite factor. The main difference has been his ability to hit the 3-pointer. He is shooting 35%, making nearly one per outing. He showed that ability on occasion in Utah (including the great Miracle in Miami game). He could become an All-Star regular out East.

Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks

In his 11th season, Korver is playing a career-high 34.3 MPG, but that extra PT is not affecting his sweet shooting stroke at all. His jump shot is improving with age and his contract is looking great for the Hawks. He leads the NBA with a .661 TS%, while also producing a stellar .638 eFG%. His 46.3% 3FG% would constitute the second best mark of his career. The rest of Korver’s game has always been a bit underrated.  While he doesn’t wow the world, he has always been a willing defender, rebounder and passer. Korver is adding 4.3 RPG and 3.1 APG, while registering a 4.0 WS.

DeMarre Carroll, Atlanta Hawks

The last of the former Jazzmen in Atlanta, Carroll is having a banner year. Like Millsap and Korver, he is part of the Hawks starting line-up. He is tallying 10.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG and 1.5 SPG in 30.7 MPG. His per/36 minutes stats are actually right in line with what he did in 2012-2013. His hustle and defensive effort have been integral to Atlanta’s solid season.

Kris Humphries, Boston Celtics

Yes, he’s still playing. While his numbers will never be balanced compared to his contact, Humphries is scoring 7.8 PPG and 6.0 RPG in a bench role for a team that is Utah’s competition for ping pong balls. Hard to believe he is just 28 years old–seems like he’s been around for ages.

Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets

It has been a season to forget for DWill. Williams was to be the engine of a team boasting former All-Stars and strong depth.  That has not quite materialized, although things are starting to pick-up. Thanks to seemingly endless injury issues, he has never scored (13.5 PPG) or assisted less (6.9 APG) since his rookie campaign. His WS is just 2.1. Williams is in the midst of a five-year, $98 million deal. While the Nets owner is beyond wealthy, the Nets brain trust has to hope he can regain his health and rejoin the ranks of the elite point guards.

Andrei Kirilenko, Brooklyn Nets

AK-47 is still a utility guy…he just does things on a much smaller scale these days. He too has been plagued with injuries that have not allowed him to truly thrive. Essentially every one of Kirilenko’s statistics are career-lows. He still makes good things happen, as he’s been a cog in Brooklyn’s solid January. But it’s hard to see him playing many more seasons after this one.

Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats

Once again, Big Al was on the outside looking in when the All-Star reserves were named. Jefferson is posting a nightly double-double (19.9 PPG, 10.6 RPG) while providing the best post presence the Bobcats have ever enjoyed. He is scoring more than he has since 2009 and is working hard to help Charlotte get back to the postseason. And he still never turns the ball over (6.7 TOV%).

Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls

It seems like everywhere Boozer has gone, he has produced. But everywhere he’s gone, he’s also become a source of frustration for fan bases. He is still an offensive threat, but the 14.8 PPG and $15.3 million price tag do not quite jive. His scoring is the lowest since his sophomore season and he’s never shot more poorly (45.2%), although Derrick Rose’s absence is a big factor. Thus, the amnesty provision still hovers over his head.

C.J. Miles, Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland’s situation is messy. Simply put, the Cavaliers are among the league’s biggest disappointments. Despite the issues, Miles has seen a decrease in playing time–his 19.7 MPG is the lowest in six seasons. There are minutes to be had, but for whatever reason, he is not claiming them. In typical C.J. fashion, he still has flashes of greatness, as seen in his recent 10-trey evening.

Devin Harris, Dallas Mavericks

Injuries kept Harris out for two months, but now that he’s back, he’s proven to be a great bench addition for the Mavericks. He’s played just eight games, but with 9.5 PPG and 3.5 APG in just 18.4 MPG, he’s become a stabilizing force off the pine. Harris has reverted back to his driving game and is subsequently getting to the free throw line 6.6 times/36 minutes–an aspect of his game that was noticeably missing in Utah.

Randy Foye, Denver Nuggets

He’s not shooting the 3-pointer as well as he did with the Jazz, but Foye has increased his productivity. In slightly less playing time this season, he’s averaging more points (11.3), rebounds (2.6, up from a lowly 1.5 RPG mark) and assists (2.8). With Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson suffering injuries and Andre Miller on the outs, Foye is being relied upon more to help facilitate the offense.

Ronnie Brewer, Houston Rockets

Things have never been the same for Brewer since the Jazz traded him. He had some excellent years for Utah, including a career-best 13.7 PPG  in 2008-09. With a bevy of swingmen available, Ronnie B is at the end of the bench. He is averaging 0.3 PPG and shooting just 20% from the field. He still shows defensive prowess, but simply does not have a role with the Rockets. He too is only 28, but it is appearing more and more likely that he may not regain the production level he displayed in Utah.

Kosta Koufos, Memphis Grizzlies

This was one of my favorite off-season moves, mostly because it provided a capable starter to play behind a great center in Marc Gasol. With the latter’s injuries, Koufos was thrust into starting again and his advanced stats dropped a bit. Things have picked back up now that Gasol is back. Still, he’s shooting about 10% less from the field than last season. Koufos is still doing great things–7.0 PPG and 6.1 RPG (18.7 TRB%) and will help Memphis in their quest to earn one of the playoff spots.

Derek Fisher, Oklahoma City Thunder

He will never stop playing. Yes, he’s announced that he’s bidding adieu after this season, but we’ll see. At 39 years old and in his 18th season, his contributions are marginal. He is averaging just 4.7 PPG and 1.3 APG, but still gets consistent burn. While his shots inside the arc are often errant, those from downtown are still going down at a 37.2% clip. Fisher still takes a lot of charges.

Ronnie Price, Orlando Magic

One of the genuine good guys in the NBA, Price’s main contribution to the rebuilding Magic is to be a veteran influence and consummate professional. His stats are scary: 1.9 PPG (32.6% FGs, 28.6% 3s, 60% FTs) and 1.3 APG. Given the way he is respected by all the teams he’s played for, it would not surprise to see Price continue to find work in similar roles for a few more seasons.

Wesley Matthews, Portland Trailblazers

This may be one of the guys that Jazz fans will never stop missing; this year has not changed that. Matthews is having the best season of his career and was a fringe All-Star candidate. His play has been integral to the Blazers’ surprising first half. He is averaging career-highs in points (16.7), rebounds (4.1), 3-pointers made (2.6) and 3P% (41.9%). His TS% has skyrocketed to .621 (up from .574) and his WS is 5.6 (4.7 OWS). His past two seasons were somewhat inconsistent, but his play this season has been a big catalyst for Portland’s success.

Earl Watson, Portland Trailblazers

Like Price, Watson is in Portland to serve as a veteran voice and locker room presence. He’s only appeared in 12 games, playing 4.6 MPG. The end of his career is probably nigh.

Mo Williams, Portland Trailblazers

Williams has embraced the sixth man role in Portland and is thriving. He is providing energy and strong play behind and occasionally alongside Damian Lillard.  He shooting is still shaky (39.5%), but he’s adding 9.1 PPG and 4.6 APG as a reserve. Given that the Trailblazers bench was awful the year before, his addition has been very welcomed. It’d be interesting to learn if Williams would have accepted such a role in Utah behind Trey Burke.

Eric Maynor, Washington Wizards

It has been a rough go for Maynor in the nation’s capital. He has scarcely played behind John Wall (who is averaging 37 MPG) and when he’s played, he’s struggled mightily. He’s shooting a horrendous 29.2% from the field and is chipping in just 2.3 PPG and 1.7 APG in 9.3 MPG. He showed promise early on in his career, but has plateaued–or perhaps even regressed.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Jerry Sloan’s Greatest Accomplishment http://saltcityhoops.com/jerry-sloans-greatest-accomplishment/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jerry-sloans-greatest-accomplishment/#comments Tue, 11 Jun 2013 14:45:25 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=6535 Author information
Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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2003-04 utah jazz roster

“I think I’m finished.”

With four simple words, John Stockton casually and unceremoniously closed the curtain on an historic NBA career.  In true Stockton style, calling no attention to himself, he made the announcement at locker cleanout day as offhandedly as he would answer a question about his previous night’s dinner choice.  The announcement, combined with the move made to L.A. by Karl Malone, the yin to Stockton’s yang, poignantly trumpeted the end of an incredible Utah Jazz era.

If losing two hall-of-fame players and the entire team’s identity in one offseason weren’t bad enough, Utah’s remaining roster was as underwhelming as they came.  The Sports Illustrated 2003-04 NBA season preview predicted the Jazz to finish dead last in the west, and quoted an anonymous scout from an opposing team, who was even less optimistic regarding Utah’s chances.

“If this team wins 20 games, I’ll be surprised,” the scout said.  “…This is probably the least talented club in the league.”

Utah’s opening night started lineup was comprised of 24-year-old Carlos Arroyo, who was attempting to fill the gargantuan shoes Stockton left behind at point guard; the overpaid and underwhelming Greg Ostertag at center and a talented but young Andrei Kirilenko playing out of position at power forward.  DeShawn Stevenson and Matt Harpring rounded out the starting lineup, with Raja Bell, Sasha Pavlovic, Jarron Collins, Ben Handlogten and Raul Lopez getting minutes off the bench.  The Jazz won that night, riding hot shooting (57%) and a balanced scoring effort to surprise many, even against an underwhelming Trail Blazers squad.  A 127-102 drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks in the next contest seemed to put the Jazz back on the path to futility and frequent losses where the rest of the league seemed to think they belonged.

Leave it to a team led by Jerry Sloan to grossly exceed expectations.

Despite the dearth of All-Star-caliber players and bona fide scorers on the roster, the Jazz continued to kick, scratch and claw their way through every game.  The hard-nosed, high energy style of play Sloan was known for during his playing days seemed to possess the team on a nightly basis.  Consistent effort and unselfish play led the Jazz to win more games than they lost, albeit in the least aesthetically pleasing manner possible.  By the end of 2003, the Jazz were sitting at a surprising 17-14 record and, shockingly enough, in the middle of the Western Conference playoff race.

If the lack of natural talent weren’t a big enough obstacle Utah had to sidestep, Matt Harpring suffered a knee injury in early January that sidelined him for the remainder of the season.  There are two incredible facts brought to light by this injury: the fact that Utah was a whisker away from making the playoffs after missing their second-best player for half the season, and the fact that Matt Harpring was the second-best player on a team with a winning record.  This is no knock on Harpring, as his aggressive play and perpetually revved up motor fit the Sloan system perfectly, but Harpring was nowhere near a franchise-level player.

Looking to take a flier on a once-prolific scorer and to acquire some much-needed three point shooting, Utah acquired Tom Gugliotta and Gordan Giricek in two separate draft deadline deals.  While the Gugliotta gamble never paid off, Giricek provided much of the scoring void left by Harpring’s knee injury and made Utah’s offense more dynamic by virtue of his three-point accuracy.

Through both draft day trades and sheer hustle and determination, Utah maintained its modest but above .500 pace.  Relying heavily on Kirilenko, Arroyo and Giricek, the Jazz continued to hover around the .500 mark until late in the season.  (Ironically, current Utah outcast Raja Bell was also a huge contributor to Utah’s offense, routinely pouring in 20 off the bench and garnering consideration for 6th Man of the Year.)  At 42-38, Utah was ever so close to cracking that top eight in the Western Conference and extending their season for at least four more games.  Unfortunately, an expected loss to the Mavericks and an unexpected defeat to the terrible Phoenix Suns ended Utah’s season and playoff bid.  Most likely by virtue of missing the playoffs, Jerry Sloan lost out on winning Coach of the Year. The award went to Hubie Brown, who led the Grizzlies, in-his-prime Shane Battier and young stud Pau Gasol in tow, to 50-32 regular season record and the same number of playoff wins as Sloan’s Jazz squad, 0.

In addition everything mentioned previously, the following stats and facts from the 2003-04 Utah Jazz season only further magnify just how monumentally impressive a job Sloan did with this roster.  These don’t need to be sprinkled with prose or expounded upon; they speak for themselves.

  • Ben Handlogten, a free agent with zero NBA experience who was signed a month before the season started, suffered a season-ending injury midway through the season.  It was considered a “major loss.”
  • For the 2003-04 season, the Jazz had the third-hardest schedule, according to basketball-reference.com
  • In 2003-04, every team in the Midwest Division went to the playoffs, except the Jazz.
  • Had the Jazz been in the Eastern Conference, they would have been the 4th seed.
  • The 2003-04 Jazz were the fourth-youngest team in the league, with an average age of 24.9 years.
  • At +5, the Jazz had the biggest positive differential in the NBA between wins (42) and expected wins (37), according to basketball-reference.com

In the annals of sports history, the 2003-04 Utah Jazz season will continue to go unnoticed and overlooked, overshadowed by the dawning of the LeBron James era, the triumph of the “star-less” Detroit Pistons over the star laden Los Angeles Lakers, and myriad other storylines.  Buried underneath all the focus on superstars old and new, against all odds, Jerry Sloan accomplished quite possibly his most impressive feat: wringing every lost drop of talent and effort out of a team that had no business even sniffing the playoffs, let alone nearly participating.  It’s a real shame Sloan doesn’t get more credit for this accomplishment.

But don’t expect him to say anything about it.

 

 

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Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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Take it to the Court: Thanksgiving Edition http://saltcityhoops.com/take-it-to-the-court-3/ http://saltcityhoops.com/take-it-to-the-court-3/#comments Wed, 24 Nov 2010 16:34:51 +0000 http://www.saltcityhoops.com/?p=3181 Author information
Jefferson
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Take it the Court is a new weekly column on SCH featuring the arguments, opinions, and random musing of a Utah Jazz fanatic.

Over the past several years, the Utah Jazz have teamed up with the Salt Lake Mission to provide Thanksgiving to thousands of underprivileged Utahns.  Thus, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here is a sampling of the Utah Jazz as your traditional holiday meal:

  • Turkey: I know you’re thinking Deron Williams as the main course, right?  Guess again…how about Jerry Sloan?  Don’t sleep on Sloan for Coach of the Year, tryptophan notwithstanding.  Surrounded by change (during his tenure, he’s seen different players, management, different uniforms, even a different arena, and later a new arena name), Sloan is as constant as the Thanksgiving turkey tradition.  This Coach won’t let his players nap on defense (or they’ll find themselves camping on the bench).  Turkey is Thanksgiving and Jerry Sloan is the Utah Jazz.
  • Mashed Potatoes: Half Millsap + half Jefferson = one tasty serving of “Jeffersap.”  Night in and night out, these two take turns filling the plates of opposing teams with tasty points and rebounds.  Together, they are the glue that holds the meal together – It would nice to see them both on the table at the same time, but at least we can always count on one or the other. Thru 15 games, the duo is averaging a combined 36 points and nearly 18 rebounds per outing.
  • Gravy train? Here’s where D-Will comes in.  You know that the key to turkey and mashed potatoes is a sweet tasting gravy to tie it all together.  Likewise, Deron is the link between Sloan and his two-headed Jeffersap.  When Williams is hot, he makes Sloan, Millsap, and Jefferson ALL look better.  You can bet that opposing teams wish they could go easy on Williams – just like passing by the gravy at your family feast, overlooking D-Will is a recipe for destruction.
  • Sweet potatoes: How come we only eat sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving?  It must be some holdover from a long forgotten era – but it still makes the menu every November.  Raja Bell is the sweet potato in our analogy – a little old school, but the meal just isn’t complete without him.  With Raja on the bench, the defensive difference in Utah’s home loss to OKC was palatable.  Raja hasn’t had a defining game yet, but he makes his teammates better defenders.
  • Homemade rolls: Unless your willpower is stronger than mine (sweet, sweet carbs), you really can’t stop after one serving…just like Andrei Kirilenko.  When AK is playing well, the team wins – plain and simple.  Recall that is was AK’s inspired play that initiated the streak of comebacks.  Pair him up with some Gravy or Mashed Potatoes, even cranberry sauce – and you’ve got a winning combination.
  • Green Beans: Not everyone likes CJ Miles.  I have several FB friends who insist that he is the problem with the Jazz and needs to be shipped away as soon as possible.  And then he knocks down HUGE buckets to keep the Jazz from dropping a close one to division rival Portland, followed by a great showing against the Kings.  I, for one, am a fan of green beans AND CJ Miles.  My only qualm? I don’t want my green beans thinking that it is my gravy.  CJ, I love ya, but this is Deron’s team – you don’t have to be the hero every time you get the ball.  Be content to be a green bean, for crying out loud!
  • Cranberry Sauce: Like it or not, a little bit goes a long way; enter the Utah bench – Fes, Elson, Price, Hayward, Watson [reserve "white meat" jokes about Fes and Hayward for another time].  The Jazz don’t need huge minutes OR huge numbers from their bench players.  Instead, they need small doses of energy to keep things together.
  • Pumpkin Pie: If you don’t finish your meal with a slice of pie with some fresh whipped cream, you’re missing out.  There’s just something about Mehmet Okur [shouldn't HE be the Turkey?] that can put the finishing touches on the Utah season.  Sure, you may think there is no room for pie, but come on, you can always make room for a nice slice of pie – and a silky smooth jumpshot.  Word is, Memo is getting close.

My wish is that each and every reader out there has a happy and healthy Thanksgiving with more food than you can eat and plenty of friends and family to share it with.  From the staff writers of SCH, we’re grateful for you stopping by for the finest news and opinions on the Utah Jazz.

–  –

Contact Jefferson W. Boswell at jeffersonboz [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

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Jefferson
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Case of the Mondays: And Totally Redeem Yourself! http://saltcityhoops.com/case-of-the-mondays-and-totally-redeem-yourself/ http://saltcityhoops.com/case-of-the-mondays-and-totally-redeem-yourself/#comments Mon, 15 Nov 2010 15:46:27 +0000 http://www.saltcityhoops.com/?p=3060 Author information
Mychal
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Case of the Mondays is a weekly column on SCH that recaps the previous weekend and gives you your Jazz fix when you’ve been diagnosed with a case of the Mondays.

About Last Week

After the Jazz began the season 0-2 it seemed all was wrong in Jazz land. D-Will wasn’t happy, the Jazz’s offense was terrible, Al Jefferson was overrated, Bell was on his last legs, the bench looked awful, Hayward was catching passes from D-Will that had an extra zip to them, and the Bear almost fell from a ladder in the home opener (yes, this did in fact happen.)

Then something crazy happened. In case you weren’t able to see last week I condensed all of last week’s games into one clip. Watch that and then come back. To paraphrase, the Jazz bandwagon has room for one more if you still haven’t caught Jazz fever.

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t all what happened last week in one clip, but that’s about the gist of it. What the Jazz did last week was miraculous. Or at least highly improbable. If there is one person out there who predicted the Jazz were going to go 4-0 on their road trip and every win was going to be a comeback win, then I strongly encourage him or her to step forward and be my wingman on my next trip to Vegas. Really. Be my wingman. We could make bank.

More amazing: The Jazz have played a league-most 7 road games. They have won a league-most 5 road games. All of their road wins have come against 2009-2010 playoff teams: OKC, Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, and Charlotte.

The teams they played had an average .550 win percentage (take away Charlotte and it’s.634).  They played 4 games in 5 days. The Jazz have historically been bad on the road. They overcame halftime deficits of 19, 10, 3, and 16. Throw in the Clippers game at home and the ridiculous comeback streak is 5 games long.

You got to give it to Sloan. He wants to make it a fair fight so he allows teams to get a 20 point head start. That’s classy. All joking aside, theses second half comebacks have been nothing short of Sloan COY evangelism. The team makes some adjustments and simply executes, all the way to the victory.

Williams to Millsap

Get used to these two being good for a long time.

Right now the Jazz are one of only two teams (the other being Atlanta) to have at least two players in the top 15 in efficiency. Those two players? Williams and Millsap. In fact, Millsap is 3rd in the league in efficiency and Williams is 14th. Just imagine how crazy their efficiency would be if Sloan allowed them to play in the 1st half of games (that’s a joke).

D-Will … Unhappy?

In a recent ESPN.com chat with Ric Bucher, he had some interesting insights about the Jazz point guard. When asked why D-Will’s name doesn’t come up in trade rumors he said this:

Deron has been smarter and more responsible about it. There are no rumors leaking out because he’s not telling friends he’s frustrated. Though he is. He’ll give Utah everything he has and make a decision when his option to leave is available. I respect that to the Nth degree.

This was said after the Jazz’s wins against Miami and Orlando. They had not yet beat Atlanta and Charlotte. But Deron Williams is frustrated? I have never liked the Miss Cleo method of reading a player’s mind. I can see why someone could think he was frustrated. He lost his friend Brewer, lost his low post presence Boozer, lost Wesley Matthews, lost Korver, lost Eric Maynor, threw a ball at a rookie, and is not living in Utah anymore. Here’s my problem: unless Deron Williams has told someone he’s frustrated, how would Ric Bucher, employee of ESPN and not in D-Will’s circle of friends, know he is? Would Deron Williams tell something like that to the media before his friends or family? I don’t think so.

Not to get all sensitive, but the subtext to Bucher’s comment seems to be “He isn’t outwardly demanding a trade, but you know he’s just DYING to get out of Utah. Who could stand it there?”

Deron’s team is 1st in the Northwest division, beat 4 out of the 5 teams in the Southeast Division, and they are still learning the offense. If this is what the Jazz are capable of when they only play a couple of good quarters a night imagine what happens when they play four good quarters of basketball. Who would want anything to do with a mess like that, right?.

Ariza/West/Okafor >? Kirilenko/Millsap/Jefferson

Is D-Will's supporting cast really worse than Chris Paul's?

As long as we’re here, let’s keep piling on our man Ric Bucher. In the same chat, he also said that New Orleans’ frontline was better than Utah’s. When someone asked Ric Bucher if he really believed that Bucher responded:

I don’t think it’s even close, especially when you factor in the psychological part: NO reloaded as best they could at CP3’s behest. Utah let a bunch of pieces walk for nothing. CP also is coming back to a front-line he’s played with before. Deron isn’t dialed into Al at all yet.

He also had this to say when someone pointed out that the Jazz didn’t let people walk away for nothing:

Al has been a big disappointment, Hayward isn’t close to the shooter Korver is, Bell’s best days are firmly behind him (Brewer is a better defender at this stage) and Elson is a journeyman.

I know the Hornets are 8-0 but I attributed that more to Chris Paul than his supporting cast. While I believe Ariza, Okafor, and West are playing solid I’m not sure they are at the level of Kirilenko, Millsap, and Jefferson. Here are their combined stats head to head:

[table id=2 /]

Bucher may be right on paper, but as Jerry Sloan is quick to remind everyone, that’s why we play the games. Looking at New Orleans’ front-line, they average 11.6 less points, 3.5 less rebounds, 2.6 less assists, .25 more steals, and .7 more blocks. While New Orleans’ front-line may create an extra turnover a game (if you combine the disparity of steals and blocks) it’s a wash when you look at the rebounding disparity.

Also, if you believe in the +/- rating, the Jazz have the 5th best five-person lineup in the league. The lineup of D-Will, Miles, Kirilenko, Millsap, and Jefferson has posted a +/- rating of +47 when they are on the court. The lineup of Paul, Belinelli, Ariza, West, Okafor is 7th in the league with a +/- rating of +41. Most importantly, the advanced stat community doesn’t yet have any measurement for the “psychological part.”

Paging Miss Cleo …

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Mychal
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Division Previews: Atlanta Hawks, Southeast Division – Eastern Conference http://saltcityhoops.com/divisional-previews-atlanta-hawks-southeast-division-eastern-conference/ http://saltcityhoops.com/divisional-previews-atlanta-hawks-southeast-division-eastern-conference/#comments Wed, 20 Oct 2010 15:30:42 +0000 http://www.saltcityhoops.com/?p=2347 Author information
Jefferson
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In the final days leading up to regular season action, SCH will be posting divisional previews of the top teams in all six NBA divisions. Come back early and often for updates.

The Million Dollar Man - $119 mil over six seasons (AP)

Key Matchups

The Jazz get an early dose of the Hawks, playing in Atlanta on their first extended road trip of the season – four games against Eastern Conference playoff teams.  After visits to Miami and Orlando, Utah will visit Atlanta on November 12th (on the first night of a back-to-back with Charlotte on the back end).  Atlanta visits Salt Lake City on January 5th during the New Year home stand.

AK47 vs. Joe Johnson

Granted, AK and Joe Johnson play different positions of the floor, and have completely different games.  Still, I’ll be interested to see how Utah’s max contract mistake compares to Atlanta’s max contract man.  In the Summer of LeBron, who would have thought that Joe Johnson would have come away with the biggest payday of 2010?  Joe Johnson is a solid player, to be sure – consistent to say the least [averaged at least 20 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and a steal in each of his past five seasons].  Johnson’s offensive success comes primarily from isolation plays – Utah can concede 20 points to Joe Johnson, especially if it means keeping the other players uninvolved in the offense.  In the Conference semi-finals last year, Orlando kept JJ quiet (only 12.8 points and less than 30% from the field).  That’s a lot of cheddar for someone who essentially choked in the biggest games of the year for his team.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Kirilenko fan…  I still remember watching his first game in Utah from the nosebleeds in the former-Delta Center. I turned to my Dad and told him that the young Russian was something special. Following the 2004 All-Star campaign, he definitely made a strong case for max money.  His first season after the max deal? Injury plagued – he sat out half of the games.  Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20, and $17.9 million this year seems a little steep for a 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and a block.  AK only played in 58 games last year, but provided some much needed energy off the bench and found ways to contribute when his number was called.  I was worried that the trade rumors might have injured his famously frail ego, but he’s shown quite the opposite in the preseason.  AK has been firing on all cylinders, and if he stays healthy, will have a huge impact this season.  It doesn’t hurt that its a contract year, either.

Al Jefferson v. Al Horford

Standing 6’10” and putting up a double-double in points and rebounds, Al is one tough big man.  Which Al, you ask?  Why both, of course.  Al Jefferson is just a year older and averages a couple more points, but essentially, these two players share many of the same traits.  Al Horford has less experience in the league (he spent some time developing his game with Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer at Florida – and helping his team earn an NCAA championship).  Horford shoots nearly 80% from the free-throw line (Al Jefferson is just 70% from the charity stripe).  Horford has posted better numbers during each of his three NBA seasons.  It will be exciting to see these two mirror each other when the Jazz and Hawks take the court.

How will Al stack up against "Big Al"? (Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images)

High Notes | Low Notes

The more things change, the more they stay the same – at least in Atlanta.  This Hawks team will look quite a bit like the Hawks teams of the past.  Atlanta is not a great rebounding team – and it does not defend very well on the perimeter.  The core is young, but they have played together in the same system for a while now.  Even with a coaching change (see below), there’s not much different in Atlanta.  While the starting 5 are respectable, the bench leaves much to be desired.  Expect more of the same from Atlanta – a winning team that is simply not built for the playoffs.

History

Utah leads the all-time series 47-38.  Atlanta swept the season series from Utah last year.  Prior to 2010, Atlanta had not won in Utah since 1993 when Dominque Wilkins, AKA the Human Highlight Reel posted 43 points against the Jazz.  AK and D-Will watched that home dominance streak end in street clothes – in what was a very close game.  Joe Johnson scored 11 points in the final frame to overcome Utah’s lead and guide Atlanta to a victory.

Player/Coach Notes

Larry Drew was named Head Coach of the Hawks this summer.  Prior to being named Head Coach, Drew served six seasons as lead assistant to ousted Hawks Coach Mike Woodson – in other words, don’t look for any significant changes due to the leadership change.

Drew is just one of the hundreds of coaching changes in the NBA since Jerry Sloan was named as Utah’s Bench Leader.  In fact, with the retirement of Bobby Cox (GM of Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves), Jerry Sloan is now the longest serving coach in all of professional sports.

Former Number 2 overall pick Marvin Williams will start at SF for the Hawks.  Marvin Williams never developed into the all-around player Atlanta had hoped.  I’m sure Atlanta would like to have the 2nd pick in 2005 back – leaving both D-Will and CP3 on the table for the Jazz and Hornets, respectively.

Outlook

Atlanta is mired in the best and deepest division in the Eastern Conference.  Atlanta is a playoff team, for sure, but I’d be surprised if they make it out of the first round in the upcoming year.  As a lower seed in the East, they will likely be paired with Boston, Chicago, Orlando or Miami – all of whom can beat ATL in a 7 game series.  I am not convinced that the Jazz have improved enough on the road to guarantee an early road win in November against the Hawks.  I do know, however, that the Jazz are capable of beating the Hawks – and should win both games this year.  Utah is too deep to allow Atlanta’s starting five to control a game.

Contact Jefferson W. Boswell at jeffersonboz [at] gmail [dot] com

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Jefferson
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